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NYT: End 'Immoral' and Costly Detention of Suspected Illegals

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By    |   Friday, 15 May 2015 11:05 AM


Saying the mass incarceration of suspected immigration violators was both "immoral" and un-American, The New York Times in an editorial Friday called for an end to such detentions.

"Immigrant detainees are not criminal defendants or convicts serving sentences. They are locked up merely because the government wants to make sure they show up in immigration court," the Times wrote, pointedly adding that "the American immigration system should reflect our values. The detention system does not do that."

The paper said of detention's deep harm to families, and especially to women and children: "Detention is intended to help enforce the law, but, in practice, the system breeds cruelty and harm, and squanders taxpayer money.

"It denies its victims due process of law, punishing them far beyond the scale of any offense. It shatters families and traumatizes children. As a system of mass incarceration — particularly of women and children fleeing persecution in Central America — it is immoral."

The Times editorial comes as the director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, issued a new set of reforms for detentions. But the paper said those reforms "won't touch the heart of the problem."

Previously, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops-Migration and Refugee Services and the Center for Migration Studies offered new guidelines that they argued are more humane for immigrants. A summary was published Monday in the Journal on Migration and Human Security.

The recommendations include, reported the Huffington Post, ending family detentions and using detention as a last-ditch option "only" when there are no other ways that could ensure a defendant's appearance in court.

They also called for "pregnant and nursing women, bona fide asylum-seekers, the very ill, the disabled, the elderly and other vulnerable persons never be detained" and ordered that "detention be based on individualized determinations and not be used in a misguided attempt to deter others from coming."

The Times reported a sharp growth in immigrant detainees, from 85,000 in 1995 "to more than 440,000 in 2013." Citing the Catholic Bishops and Migration Studies report, it also notes that "the detention system has become an enormous funnel for the crushingly overburdened, underfunded immigration courts, which receive a meager $300 million from Congress each year, one-sixtieth of what ICE and Customs and Border Protection get."

The Times, again quoting the report, says that at the close of March nearly 442,000 cases were pending before immigration judges, with an average case wait time of 599 days to be heard, and waits in some courts of two years.

"This is not efficiency or due process," the Times wrote.

The paper called on authorities to use other more humane monitoring technologies, "supervised or conditional release," and urged community support alongside "intensive case management."

"But neither Congress nor the Homeland Security Department has embraced these approaches, which would be far cheaper than locking people up," the Times said.

A letter urging a similar end to detentions was sent to President Barack Obama by a coalition of 188 Latino activist groups, which included the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), American Immigration Lawyers Association, Center for Popular Democracy, Detention Watch Network, DREAM Action Coalition, National Council of La Raza and We Belong Together, the Latin Post reported.

"In light of recent developments and ongoing negotiations in litigation on the detention of immigrant families, we, the undersigned 188 immigrants' rights, faith-based, civil rights, human rights, survivors' rights, and criminal justice reform organizations, international educators, and legal service providers, urge your administration to end the practice of family detention," the letter read.

Awaiting a judge's decision on the legality of three immigrant detention centers — in Texas and Pennsylvania — used to hold women and children, ICE said it would appoint an in-house inspector to review conditions there but no changes to the current system will occur for now, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Saying the mass incarceration of suspected immigration violators was both "immoral" and un-American, The New York Times in an editorial on Friday called for an end to such detentions.
ny times, immigration, detention, illegals, courts, cost
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2015-05-15
Friday, 15 May 2015 11:05 AM
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